Review - The Last of Us

Spoilers Ahead. Do not click on the links too

The ending of The Last of Us can be summed up with one word bittersweet. The story of Joel and Ellie is complete, with a full stop at the end.

The Last of Us is a post apocalyptic game from my favourite game studio Naughty Dog. It is about the journey of a man and a teenaged girl's trek across America after the outbreak of the Cordyceps fungal infection (why cordyceps?). Joel, the character you play as most of the game, lost his daughter right at the start of the game. 20 years later, though happenstance Joel was tasked to bring Ellie to the Fireflies (A militant group searching for the cure). As you play the game, Joel and Ellie slowly came to rely and trusted each other. And eventually, cared for one and another. That is what makes the ending so powerful.

Through the game, Joel and Ellie meet people and non-people. All non-people were just out to kill them. Most people were also trying to kill them. One of the most memorable people Joel and Ellie met were Henry and Sam. They were a pair of brothers travelling and their couple dynamics was very similar to that of Joel and Ellie. Just when the four of them escaped a particularly bad situation, it turned out that Sam the younger brother was bitten. He turned and Henry had to kill him. Henry couldn't take what he had to do and so he blew his brains out. Talk about depressing.

Then towards the end of the Winter chapter, Joel was hurt and Ellie had to hunt for the both of them. She met a pair of men, David and James, and barter for antibiotics. She ended up being trapped with David when they were attacked by a horde of Infected. Later in the encounter, Ellie realised that the men they had killed in a previous chapter were from the group that David led. For quite a bit of the chapter, I had actually questioned the morality of Joel for killing the men. Did they deserve to die? Even though, it turned out that David and his group eat humans, they are also just people trying to survive. Ellie had to kill David to get away. My heart wrenched when Joel finally got to Ellie and hugged her, telling her "I'm here, baby girl, it's me".

Right at the end, Joel and Ellie found the Fireflies. Then, Joel learned that to get the cure Ellie needed to die. Joel proceed to murder and massacre his way out of the hospital, killing what is probably one of the last few doctors on Earth. Ending all hope of a cure for mankind because he couldn't bear the thought of losing his daughter all over again. Then, he lied to Ellie about it. Ellie sensed that he was lying, that's why she told him the story about how she was bitten. She even made him swear. For his sanity and her future, Joel lied to her. Her expression on her face at the end was ambiguous at best but I think though Ellie knew he was lying. And she is fine with it.

After going on a 17+ hour journey that is depressing (See Henry and Sam), frightening (Too many encounters with clickers) and sad (See the ending of Winter) with the both of them, I loved this ending. I had initially thought Joel would probably be bitten towards the end of the game and Ellie would save him from turning. Or maybe Joel would sacrifice himself to make sure Ellie got to the Fireflies. Or even Joel turned into one of the Infected and Ellie had to kill him. (See Henry and Sam's story.) The ending had no giant boss to kill and it involved no meaningless self sacrifice, but I don't need all that anyway. I'm sure Naughty Dog can milk more story out of the duo if that's what they wanted but I hope they won't. The ending is perfect the way it is.

At the heart of The Last of Us is a world that is filled with shades of gray, where people are neither good nor evil, they are all just trying to survive. Give the game a shot, I am sure it won't disappoint.

Posted on June 28, 2013 and filed under review, Game.